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After 35 years of organic gardening and 10 years of battling root knot nematodes in the sugar sand of the Texas coast, I have had a major discovery and success this spring (2017). I shared some of this with you in my blog, “The Many uses of Molasses”. I shared that gardening friends had used dry molasses tilled into their large raised beds to limit the damage done to vegetable plant by root knot nematodes in 2016. I shared that I saw much less nematode damage this spring to my tomatoes and squash by using liquid molasses drenches in the planting, flowering and fruit ripening stages. The flowering and ripening stages are caused by chemical changes in the plants which also stimulate nematode activity.

Dr. Myles Bader, in 1001 All-Natural Secrets to a Pest-Free Property (2005), says that sugar dehydrates the 1/125” microscopic nematode worm. This is like the sugar put on sliced ripe peaches breaks down the cell walls and creates a delicious syrup. Molasses made from sugar cane is up to 43% sugar plus having potassium, phosphorus and trace minerals.

Homestead Organics’ research (internet) states that the cane sugar industry has used both dry and liquid molasses as a soil amendments for years to: (1) stimulate the growth of beneficial micro-organisms, (2) reduce damage done to roots by root parasites, (3) stimulate the quick microbial decay of organic matter, (4) prompts the quick release of nitrogen in the soil, (5) increase fruit and vegetable yields, (6) promotes more CO2 absorbing foliage growth, and (7) reduces plant stress and diseases.

I have been so impressed by the healthy plants and high yield of my spring garden that I have purchased 15 gallons of agricultural molasses. Yes, I will continue to use compost, organic fertilizers, LMC (compost tea) and Spray-N-Grow.

I am disappointed that my first okra planting has stopped producing pods this first week in July. These are the plants I tilled in dry molasses and cedar granules before planting. I have followed with molasses drenches. The plants still were green before I pulled them up, with very little leaf or bloom drop which would indicate nematode damage. These plants looked healthier and produced more than the okra of the past 3-4 years. The summer heat and semi-drought conditions weaken the plants. The plants had many roots but with nematode galls on most plants.

Howard Garrett, the Texas Dirt Doctor, has recommended using cedar shavings to control root knot nematodes. I wonder if it is helpful. I wonder if the molasses decomposed the cedar granules limiting their effectiveness. I will side dress the cedar granules on my new okra plants when they bloom along with using the molasses drenches. We’ll see!

-Herman Green

7/18/2017    Garden Journals, Gardening Know-How